Frequently, parents seek book recommendations that will help their children through an “urgent life transition.” These “transitions” might involve divorce, a new baby, a move, a new school or adoption issues. In other words, just about anything that involves change.
While my book suggestions certainly vary depending on the circumstances, much of my counsel about relationships and change is the same for every parent:
- Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings.
- Remember that your child is an individual and is experiencing this situation in his or her own way.
- Find out what’s going on inside. Ask open-ended questions, which leave room for answers other than “yes” or “no.” Start your questions with words like, “Tell me about…,” “How did you…” or “What did you think about….” For example: “I wonder how you feel about becoming a big brother or sister?” “How can we make friends in our new neighborhood?”
- Read a book together about feelings. Here are three of my favorites:
Find books appropriate to your specific circumstance and read them together with your child. Your local librarian will be very helpful, as he or she will often have a list of parent resource books for any of these topics and more.
Here are the books I keep on my own bookshelf:
- Adoption: “Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born” by Jamie Lee Curtis
- Divorce: “Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families” by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
- Moving: “Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move” by Judith Viorst
- New baby: “The New Baby” by Fred Rogers
- New school: “Wemberly Worried” by Kevin Henkes
Your child is not looking for protection or escape from the anxiety and uncertainty of life’s transitions. Rather, with attention to feelings and some good books, you can provide him or her with the skills to cope with whatever life throws in the way. That’s a gift that will last a lifetime.